During your first week in Finland you should
- Register with maistraatti
- Submit a notification of move
- Open a bank account
- Set up a phone connection
- Come say hi to us at the Fulbright Finland office!
The host institution may arrange for lecturers and research scholars to be met upon arrival by a university or department representative. If arrival assistance is desired, please request help directly from your host institution and provide the appropriate arrival information (date, time, flight number and airline) well in advance. You can also be met by your Fulbright Buddy or a possible university tutor at the airport.
Visiting the Local Register Office
If you live in Finland for at least a year you must register your stay in Finland with the local register office (maistraatti). If you stay in Finland less than a year the registration is optional.
However, it is recommended due to some of the benefits it offers. One of the most important reasons why Fulbrighters usually register with maistraatti is the considerable discount it allows you to receive on the local bus pass.
Maistraatti also issues Finnish personal ID numbers/social security numbers (henkilötunnus). However, the simplest way to obtain a personal ID number is to apply for it with the residence permit if possible. If you have not applied for your personal ID number in conjunction with the Finnish residence permit, you may apply for it from maistraatti after your arrival in Finland.
To register with the local register office, you need to personally visit the register office where your details will be entered in the Finnish Population Information System. At the office, you will need to fill out and sign the registration form and present the following documents:
- residence permit card
- Fulbright documents and university invitation letter (scholars) or university letter of attendance (students)
- If your spouse and children have moved with you to Finland, take also your marriage certificate and children's birth certificates to the register office. Please note that the marriage certificate and birth certificates need to be legalized (link to bringing your family)
If you are issued with a Finnish ID number, it will come in handy for any public service or web-based form, and when opening a bank account or buying a phone contract, for instance. Thus, it is recommended that you acquire the ID number at the beginning of your stay and for example before buying a phone contract. Please note that the procedures may vary between local register offices.
Among other things, the registered information is used in the organization of elections, for taxation, health care, juridical administration and statistical purposes. More information on the personal identity code, registration purposes and privacy protection with the registration can be found from the Population Registration Centre (Väestörekisterikeskus).
Change of Address Notification
Submitting a Change of Address Notification is required whenever you move to Finland and inside Finland.
This way your mail will be delivered to you to the correct address. You can submit a change of address notification by either
- filling in a form at the post offices or register offices (Maistraatti) after arriving in Finland
- filling in an online form at www.posti.fi/changeaddress
- Using the online service requires identity verification based on online bank user IDs, a Posti user ID, or a Citizen Certificate (e.g. electronic ID card).
Consult your host university
Please consult your host university for further instructions. Many lecturers have their housing arranged for them by their host universities, who may take care of this for you. If you are living in student housing, the university housing department will usually do this on your behalf.
Moving in Finland
If you change your address during your stay in Finland, submit your notification of move each time you move permanently. After registering with the local Register Office and submitting a ‘Change of address notification’, your new address will be automatically forwarded to several authorities, organizations and companies (further information: ‘Good to Know’ box at www.posti.fi/changeaddress).
When you leave Finland
Remember to complete a Change of Address Form at the end of your grant period. The Finland Post Corporation will forward your mail to your new address free of charge for one month. For an additional fee, the service may be extended.
Open a Bank Account
Read more about opening a bank account and grant payments during your Fulbright term in Finland.
Set up Your Phone Connection
It’s important to have a working phone connection so the Fulbright FInland Foundation is able to reach you during your grant term in Finland.
If you bring a European-compatible cell phone from the U.S., you can buy a pre-paid SIM card at a convenience store. If you don't have a European-compatible phone, get a cheap (or second hand) one and buy a prepaid SIM card. This can be a bit easier than trying to qualify for a regular subscription service.
If you wish to have a regular subscription service, visit the local register office for Finnish ID before contacting a cell phone network provider. Often cell phone network providers require a Finnish ID number when buying a month-to-month phone contract. You may also be asked to pay a deposit anywhere from 300 to 500 euros as a non-permanent resident when making a month-to-month contract, and it may take few weeks to set up.
Pre-paid SIM Cards
Depending on the length of time you will be in Finland, and your predicted calling habits, you may opt to sign up for a contract or purchase a pre-paid start-up kit. Pre-paid start-up kits are available at convenience stores across the country (R-Kioski is one popular chain). The start-up kits range in price from 5 to 20 euros and include a Finnish phone number and, depending on the price, approximately 5-10 euros in credit. Additional credit may be purchased at convenience stores or at some ATMs. You can start using your new phone number immediately, along with text, voice mail, and data services. You need to remember that the prepaid kits do not work outside Finland.
Buying a phone in Finland
Some grantees purchase a cell phone in Finland. The cheaper models may not come with an Internet connection or other fancy features, but they have all the functions you need to make ordinary local and international phone calls and text messaging.
You can also bring your phone from the USA, but first you need to make sure that it’s compatible with the European GSM system (3G, 4G/LTE) and you are able to insert a European SIM card in the phone.
Land lines are very rare in Finland and most Finns no longer have them.
You can easily and cheaply keep in touch with your family and friends overseas by Internet calling with programs such as Skype, Whatsapp or FaceTime. Service prices range from free, for calls made from one computer to another, or two euro cents a minute for calls placed from a computer to a landline.
Keeping Fulbright Finland Updated
U.S. State Department requires all Fulbright offices to have the most up-to-date contact information of the grantees in the specific country. We need to be able to reach you in case of emergency, and sometimes there are also great opportunities that come up on short notice and we would like to inform you about them immediately.
Remember to notify the Fulbright Finland Foundation in case you are
- Traveling outside Finland
- Moving or your contact information changes
- Offered an honorarium or other salary during your grant period. Please note that Fulbright U.S. Student grantees need a prior approval from Fulbright Finland before accepting a job offer.
Keep you program coordinator also updated if you have any problems or questions during your stay in Finland. When you are in contact with IIE/IREX, remember to cc your program coordinator in the email.
Get in contact with your local Fulbright program coordinator before any travels!
Grantees cannot travel during compulsory Fulbright Finland events and other engagements. According to the international Fulbright grantee Terms and Conditions, “as a general rule, grantees are permitted a cumulative total of 14 days of personal travel within and outside of the host country, excluding weekends, national and/or religious holidays in the host country, and depending on the host country policies. The Fulbright Commission in the host country may permit more than 14 days of personal travel. The grantee must obtain prior approval for all personal travel from the Fulbright Commission, which may consult with ECA before granting approval.”
- Before making travel plans, talk to your host and make sure that the timing of your travel is suitable for your host in Finland and that it does not negatively impact on your Fulbright project.
- Contact your Fulbright Finland program coordinator well before traveling to inform them about your travel details and to find out whether the travel has any effect on your grant. According to the international Fulbright rules, the grantee must obtain prior approval for all travel from the Fulbright Commission, which may consult with ECA before granting approval. FDAT program participants will additionally need to consult IIE before any travel out of the country.
- Inform your Fulbright Finland program coordinator the exact dates of your travel, the destination and your contact information while traveling. Fulbright Finland is required by the U.S. Department of State to be aware of grantees’ whereabouts.
If your travel is not Fulbright-related, your ASPE insurance will not be valid during the travel and you must acquire other insurance. If the travel is a combination of Fulbright-related and personal travel, Fulbright Finland needs to consult IIE and U.S. State Department to determine the effect on ASPE coverage.
Be sure to check the visa requirements of the country you will visit.
Travel in European countries
U.S. citizens can travel to most European countries as tourists usually for a maximum of 3 months, based on European Union regulations or Schengen Convention. Please note that the European Union and the Schengen area are two different zones and include different countries. Before planning travel to other European countries, always check the traveling regulations for U.S. citizens with the country’s immigration officials. Do take your passport and residence permit along when traveling inside Schengen or EU area.